Beef ration usage has been severely hit by low cattle prices, with some merchants reporting a 20pc drop in sales.
Compound feed providers admitted that the market remained difficult for beef ration, with a combination of poor factory prices and reduced numbers of feeding cattle in sheds putting downward pressure on demand.
Sales volumes have varied across the country; with merchants reporting that demand is generally back by between 10pc and 20pc on last year.
“Feeding is a complete waste of time at €3.60/kg. Lads are not fools; economics have to win out,” one merchant told the Farming Independent.
“A lot more cattle are being stored this year as well, with a view to finishing them off grass,” he added.
A sharp reduction in the numbers of bulls housed this year has also impacted on demand for finisher rations.
“Lads got burned on bulls by the factories last year, so there was no rush to finish this spring,” a farm advisor pointed out.
Department of Agriculture figures show a 17pc reduction in the bull beef kill during January, compared to 2019 figures.